This is a photo from my recent trip to Singapore. We'd spent the day at Universal Studios and the Revenge of the Mummy was the last roller coaster we needed to fit in before the ride closed (which explains why the cart's only half-full). We'd been avoiding buying souvenir photos the whole trip, as they're very expensive. But when I saw this one I just had to get a copy of it.
That's my friends and I taking up the front row. I'm on the left with the Living End t-shirt, Jason's in the middle and Jerida's on the right. It's a hilarious photo of course. The looks of unbridled excitement, surprise and fear on both of my friends' faces is amazing. But as well as being hilarious, I found the photo very intriguing. It was interesting to me that while they were shouting and laughing in the dark, I was sitting there quietly tensed, tucking myself in and just staring. That intrigue turned into deep thought. Why did I react so differently?
It seems pretty clear that when I get scared, I make myself as small as possible. No sudden movements. Keep my hands an feet inside at all times, just in case I touch something in the dark that I didn't expect and it gives me a fright. If I freeze, maybe the thing that's scaring us will relax and leave us alone. I was certainly enjoying the ride, don't get me wrong. But the way I handle fear seems very different to the others.
The next thing I realised is that I don't like that about myself. Look anywhere you want in the animal or human kingdom. Those who scrunch themselves up at the appearance of danger are usually those at the bottom of the pecking order. It's the gorillas that bang their chests and roar the loudest that become the leaders of the pack. In the one year that I played football, the coaches always told us that the players that run straight into a pack head first will usually be the ones the least hurt. The ones that hesitate for fear will be the ones who get injured.
So I made a resolution right then to swing my arms more. To open my body up and challenge anything or anyone that threatens me. When I hear I loud noise, I won't jump and shrink back, I'll turn and lean towards it. When I'm scared of getting hit, I'll let go of the handlebar, reach up and embrace it. I'll get the most out of my tiny frame and make it as big as possible. Because as Jerida said:
"Only you can take a simple snapshot from a ride and turn it into a life-changing realisation."